New paintshop for buses would cost £500,000

Isle of Man buses

Isle of Man buses

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Some £2,000 has to be added to the cost of repainting a bus because vehicles have to be shipped off-island.

Public transport bosses say a new £500,000 paintshop is needed at Banks Circus, Douglas, but they have been putting off the plans as long as possible.

Questions about the bus replacement programme were raised at last week’s House of Keys sitting. A total of £2,576,258 has been spent on new buses and vans in the current financial year, Chris Robertshaw told MHKs.

Supplementary information provided for the Minister revealed a £3,000 paint job that cannot be completed on the island becomes £5,000 including shipping costs – and this had to be balanced against a capital expenditure of over £500,000 on a new paintshop that would only have 50 per cent use.

Director of public transport Ian Longworth explained the existing paint shop at Banks Circus cannot be used for repaint spraying following a health and safety prosecution a decade ago.

He said funding had been earmarked in the Treasury’s ‘Pink Book’ two years ago but added: ‘We need a new legal body and paint shop but we have held off spending that money as long as possible as the fleet replacement programme has allowed us to. We have bought new buses with the cheapest paint scheme, but also long lasting.’

All buses now have to be repainted in the UK. The cost of repainting a silver Mercedes bus is around £5,000 including shipping while a red bus costs about £5,500.

Mr Longworth said the single-colour silver buses with their standard Mercedes finish provide significant savings as it is longer lasting and, importantly, pre-painted panels can be purchased.

Mercedes had also offered a bespoke red livery but this would have cost £2,500 extra.

Total savings with the silver buses are about £3,000 with one repaint or £3,500 if they need painting twice.

Mr Longworth said a new paintshop would also solve the problems of dealing with white lead and lead paint on trams and trains.

He added: ‘We only need to paint 10 buses in the next three years, then it is 12 to 15 a year. We paint six to eight railway vehicles a year. Hence, only 50 per cent of available time would be used, so we proposed a partnership with others.’

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